Saenger Biloxi Theatre
416 Reynoir Street,
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Saenger Biloxi (Official)
Architects: Roy A. Benjamin
Functions: Performing Arts
News About This Theater
- Nov 26, 2003 — Today's Newsreel
The Saenger Biloxi Theatre opened on January 15 1929 and was touted as the Pearl of the Gulf South. The $200,000 theater was owned by Julian and A.D. Saenger of New Orleans and was designed by Roy A. Benjamin and built by Arthur Perry. The Saenger Biloxi Theatre was just one of more than sixty theaters the brothers owned in America, Cuba, and Puerto Rico.
With seating for 1,245 people, the theater’s acoustics were built so that, as the local paper reported, even a whisper on stage could be heard by all. The theater also featured 3 levels of dressing rooms, which were accessed by the use of a spiral staircase, and a backstage electric control panel that could control every light in the theater.
The first movie to be shown in the Saenger was “Interference”, produced by Paramount and billed as a 100% all-talking picture and stared Clive Brooks, Evelyn Bront, William Powell, and Doris Kenyon. This was a first for Biloxi and during its early years, the Biloxi Saenger Theatre hosted talkies, travelling shows, and vaudeville performances. Eventually, though, moving pictures took over entirely and the fine Wurlitzer organ was replaced by a piano.
Over the next four decades, the theater changed hands several times and last operated as a movie house under the ABC Theaters banner. In 1974, a fire closed the theater and, in 1975, ABC deeded the theater to the city of Biloxi. The brick and steel structure remained sound and quite ready for renovation and the first phase of which was begun in that same year. The year 1981 saw the addition of a green room, and, in 1983, the Biloxi Saenger Theatre was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In the late-1990’s, the colorful electric sign was replaced with a duplicate of the original and in 2001 the lobby was restored. Further restoration was completed in 2010.
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